Warn­ing of care ne­glect rev­e­la­tions

The West Australian - - NEWS - Phoebe Wearne Can­berra

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son faces calls for aged-care fund­ing to “keep pace” with the bur­geon­ing de­mand for ser­vices af­ter he told Aus­tralians to brace for “bruis­ing” rev­e­la­tions from a royal com­mis­sion on the sec­tor.

An­nounc­ing the in­quiry into res­i­den­tial and in-home care yes­ter­day, Mr Mor­ri­son said that the “very dis­turb­ing trend” of non­com­pli­ance, ne­glect and abuse un­cov­ered by the coun­try’s new aged-care cop — the Aged Care Qual­ity and Safety Com­mis­sion — had moved him to act.

The Depart­ment of Health has closed one aged-care ser­vice a month since the Oak­den nursing home in South Aus­tralia was shut last year af­ter hor­rific ev­i­dence of ne­glect and mis­treat­ment of res­i­dents emerged.

Aged Care Min­is­ter Ken Wy­att said WA had fared “rea­son­ably well” in com­par­i­son to other States but was not im­mune from the is­sues in the sec­tor.

As providers grap­ple with how to care for the na­tion’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion, Mr Mor­ri­son dis­missed sug­ges­tions that Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment bud­get cuts to the sec­tor had con­trib­uted to its prob­lems.

He ar­gued fund­ing for aged care had in­creased, with new com­pli­ance mea­sures put in place to en­sure that pub­lic funds were not mis­used.

“You put a cop on the beat, you’re go­ing to find the prob­lems,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

“I think we should brace our­selves for some pretty bruis­ing in­for­ma­tion about the way our loved ones, some of them, have ex­pe­ri­enced some real mis­treat­ment.”

The terms of ref­er­ence for the in­quiry are yet to be con­firmed, but the com­mis­sion will fo­cus on qual­ity of aged care and is­sues of sub­stan­dard care, the chal­lenges of pro­vid­ing care to young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in res­i­den­tial aged care and sup­port­ing the in­crease in preva­lence of de­men­tia.

It will also look at fu­ture chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­liv­er­ing aged-care ser­vices.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten, who has pre­vi­ously claimed there is a “na­tional cri­sis” in aged care, said the in­quiry needed to look not only at in­di­vid­ual cases of mis­treat­ment but also at “fun­da­men­tal, sys­temic prob­lems”.

“It’s got to be ev­ery­thing,” he said.

“Staff, train­ing, fund­ing, mak­ing sure peo­ple get the care that they de­serve.”

In­dus­try group Lead­ing Age Ser­vices Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Sean Rooney said the royal com­mis­sion had to iden­tify how to make Aus­tralia’s aged-care sys­tem bet­ter, and that work on ad­dress­ing key work­force and fund­ing is­sues must con­tinue si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

United Voice, the union rep­re­sent­ing aged-care work­ers in WA, said re­cent Gov­ern­ment fund­ing in­jec­tions did not make up for the “bil­lions” pre­vi­ously stripped from the sec­tor and a royal com­mis­sion would “add lit­tle” to the nu­mer­ous aged-care re­ports and re­views al­ready done.

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